Saoirse is the current Northern Tigers Girls SAP Under 12’s Coach and also coaches with XLR8. She previously played with Northern Tigers for nine years after progressing from her junior club, Lane Cove FC.
How did you first become involved in playing football?
I used to play with my older brother and father in the backyard when I was very young and I then joined Lane Cove Football Club at aged 5. I played there for 6 years and was fortunate to have a really good coach who encouraged me to go further with my footballing ability. This lead me to being selected for the Northern Tigers Development team when I was 9 years old and then being selected to play for the Northern Tigers U12’s Girls representative team the following year. I played for the Northern Tigers for the last 9 years before I stopped playing this year to focus on coaching the Northern Tigers U12’s Girls SAP squad.
What made you take the step into coaching?
While playing at the Northern Tigers a friend persuaded me to attend a coaching course with her during the school holidays. I found it very interesting and really enjoyed it and was offered a coaching position at the NSFA Football School where I started doing school holiday coaching. It was my first experience of coaching young children which I enjoyed. The Football School then became XLR8 and the expanded program gave me more opportunities to coach and increase my learning and gave me my first coaching role with the Chatswood U14G team. This then led me to coach the Northern Tigers U12 Girls SAP this year.
What characteristics do you think are critical for a coach of young players to possess?
I’m still learning, however I’ve found that some of the important characteristics is patience and having a good connection with the players and being able to have a few laughs with them. I find younger players respond better and play better with positive encouragement but also by challenging them to continually improve, trying new skills and be prepared to work hard. By working and communicating with them and providing feedback as to how well they are doing then they will work better for you.
Can you describe the current coach mentoring role you have with XLR8?
My current coaching role at XLR8 involves assisting parent coaches and working with them to expand their coaching knowledge especially in how they are running sessions so they get the most out of their young players. This has allowed me to approach sessions in a different way including offering advice and helping them understand their aims for the session, identify any issues and what needs to be done to address them.
What would be your message to females across NSFA?
Girls football is going through a big explosion at the moment and it’s a great game for girls to play. I would encourage all girls to focus on the skills and ball control, the more confident they are with the ball then they will enjoy the game more and will be able to play at a higher level. Football gives girls great opportunities to make new friends, keep fit and play to a level they are comfortable at be it either social football or all the way to the Matildas!